The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester amongst his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese Army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Ken Watanabe visited the birthplace and grave of General Tadamichi Kuribayashi to help him build on his characterization. See more »
In the second-to-last scene, the captured Japanese soldier is taken to the American landing zones, which were exclusively on the east of Iwo Jima, just north of Mt. Suribachi. The soldier, Saigo, then witnesses the sun 'setting' in the east, not the west. See more »
String Quartet No.6, Op. 1-6, Hob. III-6, Mov.2
Composed by Joseph Haydn
At a party where Ken Watanabe participated See more »
The landscape of war
The companion film to "Flags of Our Fathers" shows the battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view. Starting with the building of fortifications, hiding from relentless bombardment, and fending off an equally strong attack as American troops land on the island.
"Letters from Iwo Jima" just like "Flags of Our Fathers" is a first rate war movie with a relevant message with its critical nature. "Flags" showed the selling of war and "Letters" does the same, albeit with a different mind-set. Japan was an empire governed by a monarch back then so the military mentality was quite different, but it is also important to note the similarities. Especially at the base of the social pyramid where it is quite apparent that people are people no matter where you go.
Virtually all of the uber-patriotic tendencies that were rampant in Imperial Japan during WWII were also in Nazi Germany and, as both "Flags" and "Letters" demonstrate in the United States as well. People were used for the purpose of the government and were fed propaganda just the same. Maybe a different in a different form, but in the end it is all the same.
Ken Wantanbe is the film's highlight as a military man torn between his sense of duty and his inner feelings. As commander of the island he sees amongst his men the fanaticism, the pacifism, the "just do our job" crowd, and many other configurations of thought in between and mixed with the others. Even strange that some men initially want to fight and are proud to serve in the military and what's shocking is that some of their wives and mothers believe the same.
That paints a landscape of war as something amidst all of the stereotypes that have been made of it. Since that is where the truth usually lies, amidst all the gray matter. --- 9/10
Rated R: war violence/carnage
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